From spaceman to Ironman: astronauts compete at Kona

aving already conquered “the final frontier” many times over, NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Luca Parmitano have accepted a new mission and will reach for the stars at the 2014 IRONMAN® World Championship triathlon presented by GoPro on October 11 in Kailua-Kona, Hawai’i.

Cassidy and Parmitano will be among 2,000-plus top athletes from around the world competing in the iconic event’s 2.4-mile open water swim, 112-mile bicycle ride, and 26.2-mile run.


Despite their millions of miles in space, the World Championship will be both Cassidy and Parmitano’s first attempt at the 140.6 mile IRONMAN triathlon.

“There are certainly parallels between preparing for a space mission and training for the IRONMAN World Championship,” said Cassidy, who served in the U.S. Navy SEALs for 10 years. “Both require a great deal of mental and physical tenacity. That said, I am sure there will be moments during the 140.6 mile race that my muscles will be begging for a bit of zero gravity.”

Cassidy, who currently serves as lead of the Extravehicular Activity (spacewalking) Branch of the Astronaut Office, and Parmitano, who is a major in the Italian Air Force, began at NASA in May 2004 and ESA in May 2009, respectively. The two joined forces on Expedition 36 – a six-month stay on the International Space Station which traveled 2,656 orbits of earth totaling over 70 million miles.

“Chris and Luca are exceptionally accomplished professionals whose work has taken them on journeys most of us can’t even imagine,” said IRONMAN CEO Andrew Messick. “Although IRONMAN is a completely different kind of accomplishment, the road to becoming an IRONMAN incorporates many of the same skills that are required of Luca and Chris in their work as astronauts —discipline, passion, strength and determination. We’re honored to be a part of their ‘giant leap’ to realize new goals in endurance sports.”

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The 2014 IRONMAN World Championship presented by GoPro can be viewed live exclusively on www.ironman.com. The comprehensive coverage will capture every aspect of the race and features an Athlete Tracker and live blog. The 2014 IRONMAN World Championship broadcast will air on NBC on Saturday, Nov. 15, from 1:30 to 3 p.m. ET.

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